History of the Museum

State Museum of the History of St Petersburg is the successor of the museums, founded in the early 20th century for the purpose of preservation of the buildings, monuments and sites of historical significance in St Petersburg. 

The Museum of Old Petersburg was initiated in 1907 by the group for renowned connoisseurs of art, artists, architects and collectors, and occupied the house of Count Suzor. Alexander Benois became the first director of the Museum, later being succeeded by Peter Veiner. The founding collections consisted of unique documents, architectural designs, photographs, objects of fine art, books, artefacts, in other words – everything, that somehow related to the life of St Petersburg. In 1910, the first museum exhibition was opened to the public.

In 1918, the Museum of the City, dedicated to the phenomenon of urban culture in general, was founded. One of the missions of the museum, along with the preservation of cultural heritage, was the development of new concepts of urban planning. The Museum of the Old Petersburg became one of the departments of the Museum of the City.

The Museum occupied three buildings: the Anichkov Palace, the Сountess Karlova Mansion (46 Fontanka Embankment) and the Serebryannikov Mansion (35 Fontanka Embankment). In 1918–1928, the Museum was headed by Lev Ilyin, the main architect and city planner of Leningrad. Owing to his efforts, the Museum of the City became one of the largest research facilities of Petrograd-Leningrad of the 1920s.

The end of the 1920s, when totalitarian rule had been established in Russia, was complicated period in the history of the Museum. Departments and exhibitions were closed, items were confiscated, specialists were dismissed, and finally the museum was converted into the display, dedicated to the city economy. In 1938, the Museum of the History and Development of Leningrad was started on the basis of the former Museum of the City and occupied the Rumyantsev Mansion. In 1954 the Museum changed its name to the Museum of the History of Leningrad, and acquired a number of buildings of Peter and Paul Fortress, including Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Grand Ducal Burial Chapel, the Boathouse, the Trubetskoy and Zotov Bastions.

When the city of Leningrad had recovered its historical name in 1991, the Museum was renamed into State Museum of the History of St Petersburg. Today Peter and Paul Fortress is one of the seven branches of State Museum of the History of St Petersburg. The defensive installations and old buildings are being carefully restored. The casemates of the curtain walls and bastions house unique collections, which contain objects fr om daily life, clothing, porcelain, furniture, architectural designs, graphic art, and paintings. The Museum hosts a variety of events all year long, including temporary exhibitions, scientific conferences, lecture series, festivals. It has become one of the major city venues, wh ere specialists can meet to share their ideas about the development of the city architecture, restoration and preservation of St Petersburg historical sites.